Thursday, October 27, 2011

Be the change..

Many young people are stepping forward and making a difference in today's world. Some of them are part of the Occupy Wall Street movement here in the United States as well as across the world. Not all are necessarily part of a religious faith, but all are united in their wish to "change the world" for the better. They deserve to be heard, and they deserve our support in their nonviolent protests.

I know in my heart that my grandchildren are going to contribute in special ways to a better world. Each of them has a spirit of striving for excellence in everything they attempt, and each shows great love and compassion for animals as well as people. They have loving parents who are guiding them and instilling good values in them. Allow me to exercise my grandmother's bragging rights in the following..
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13-year-old Tanner has been busy this summer learning to make his own videos. Always an A student, he plays cello and has been learning computer programming from his dad.  His very early love of turtles has blossomed into a love of all animals, and he shares the vegan lifestyle with his family. He has his own YouTube channel now, where you may go and check out his two fantastic videos thus far. Notice how he clones himself in both! Click on this link:  TANNER'S VIDEOS
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11-year-old Hannah decided not to attend the TAG (talented and gifted) middle school this year, but to go to the same middle school that her brother Cameron attended. There she auditioned for the school choir, and just this past week auditioned for and made the Dallas All-City Choir. I haven't heard her sing yet, but she sings soprano and her dad promised to video her singing for me soon. He forwarded a copy of her first report card -- all As, with several 100s and one of those was 103 in choir!! How does one perfect perfection??  You go, girl!
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Audrey debuted as an apprentice ballerina with Contemporary Ballet Dallas last weekend. She had an entourage of family members attend, and her Uncle Craig told me she is a beautiful, talented dancer. She is in her senior year at SMU, and this semester has a light load which allows her more time to dance and even do some modeling on the side. She is excited about going to Maui in January to study the migration of humpback whales, and is still an avid animal rights activist. Her degree will be in Environmental Science. She's a whiz at calculus, too! And loves to play violin with her mom when she's at home. The lovely photo of her reminds me of Degas' fascination with ballerinas at rest.
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Travis recently brought home his first fourth grade report card of the year - he made the All A Honor Roll! As the only grandchild thus far who doesn't seem to be interested (yet) in music or the performing arts, he has channeled his interests into sports. This year he has made his dad proud with his baseball ability. The last two baseball games, Travis made great catches. One was a flying catch he made at third base when the bases were loaded. I think his dad, Matthew, was as excited about that as he was at attending one of the World Series games in Dallas this past week. Dad was a Junior Ranger when he was a kid, and still loves the Texas Rangers.
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This photo is of grandson Cameron in full makeup for an operatic performance at LSU. We can see how he will look as a middle-aged man, huh? Not bad! He sings the role of Alcindoro in LaBoheme this weekend. He said that for this production they set it in the French Quarter during  Prohibition. Cameron would love to go to graduate school next year. I pray that the economy improves, so it may be a plausible possibility. He's one of the many students in this country who - in spite of a four year scholarship, will be saddled with student loans when he graduates. Besides his beautiful voice, Cameron is politically savvy, and has a spiritual side that is developing as he is gaining life experiences. Maybe singing every Sunday for the Episcopal Church choir has had an influence on him! 
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I don't have the latest up-to-date info on my other two granddaughters, Ashlyn and Kelly, but it will be forthcoming. A little reminder to moms, Carajean and Amy!

It is obvious how proud I am of these beautiful, young, developing souls. But what I don't say often enough is how very proud I am of their mom and dads.. my children, Craig, Carajean, and Matthew. Their lives were not easy growing up, and they never had the stability and security I wished to give them. I've commented before that sometimes our dreams for a good life are not realized in our own life, but if we hang around, we can often see them come true in our children (sometimes, in spite of their upbringing!) and grandchildren.  Congratulations, you three (and your supporting spouses, of course).. I send my love and prayers for your continuing success in raising such super grandchildren of mine!

As the video suggests... "be the change"... You and yours are bringing about a better world for all of us. One that will be filled with beauty, compassion, and love of all life. 

Peace and love,
Marilyn

Sunday, October 23, 2011

WE ARE THE 99%



By not watching the cable news programs, I am unable to state with accuracy what is being told about the "Occupy" movements across the country -- even across the world. I know that the network news I watch in the evening rarely has much to say or show about this phenomena. The local news programs infrequently mention the Occupy Austin protests that are going on except if something negative happens... like an intoxicated transient pulling a knife. I read where more and more transients are moving in on the protesters. Perhaps they will get free food. Because, yes, in this "prosperous" state of Texas we have many homeless and hungry people. Oddly enough, to even get up-to-date information on any of the protests across the country, I had to request special "custom" news on my Google news site. Could the reluctance of the media to give proper notice of the revolution going on in America and other democracies around the world be in part due to the fact that the media is owned by large corporations? We know how Rupert Murdoch controls the content of his so-called "news" networks. And we condemn him for it. Surely this cannot happen in our free society that all our news will somehow be filtered to keep from giving the public a clear and true picture of what is happening today. The link under the above video is the "official" website of the original Occupy Wall Street protest. Go there to find out their latest news.

I find this video and its music particularly moving. Contrary to what I heard FOX News said about the protestors being dirty, unkempt, anarchists bent on destroying Western civilization, you will notice that everyone is represented in this video... There are young people, old people (yayyy seniors!), a mix of races, business suits, young couples with children, celebrities, and even clergy. And I don't notice any ragged dirty folks either. (Although, with the length of time they are having to make do with minimum bathing facilities, I'll bet some are beginning to smell a little rank!) The following is from their website, stating what they are all about:

"Occupy Wall Street is a leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants."
Students who have been burdened with outrageous student loan debt when graduating college and with no jobs available to assist them in paying their debt... Seniors who are concerned with losing some or all of their Medicare and Social Security benefits... Workers who have lost their jobs and benefits due to outsourcing of labor to foreign countries so Corporations can continue to rake in record profits... Homeowners who have been foreclosed upon by banks who in their greed accepted faulty mortgages... The uninsured; the homeless; the discriminated against; the disenfranchised from all areas of our society... These are the members of the Occupy movements.

The one common theme throughout all of the movements is that something is broken in our government. Our politicians are letting us down. This is no longer the land of plenty. There is plenty for the few -- the 1%. But our country is so much more than that 1%. Sadly for us, the coming election campaigns are not being waged "by the people and for the people"; but the candidates with the biggest war chests and the most powerful, rich, and influential backers will be at the forefront. Thank you, Supreme Court for your ruling on corporate campaign contributions!

I applaud the protesters and only wish I were younger and able to join them. A couple of my senior friends and I had planned to join the Occupy Austin movement on Columbus Day. Some protesters we were! The first good rain Texas had in months happened the day before we were to join them, and the forecast was for even more. We didn't want to go and be rained out. (Maybe we can still participate. I have my bell bottoms and love beads ready!)  She's concerned with the impending cuts in Medicare and Social Security, and he wanted his sign to read, "Give me back my pension!" He had worked for a steel company in Ohio for thirty years, gradually moving into management. I haven't asked why, but the company filed for bankruptcy and he lost all of his pension he had paid into all those years. I assume it was during the time so many steel companies went under due to competition from the steel companies in China. Another case of corporate greed.

I was recently reminded in a talk by former President Bill Clinton that every critical change for the better in this country was preceded by protest movements of some kind. Even as early as the movement to end slavery that resulted in the Civil War. We had the Women's Suffrage, Civil Rights, Anti-Viet Nam War, and Women's Rights movements that all led to necessary change to raise our society to a higher level. Nonviolent protests are the Democratic way. So... rock on, Occupy Wall Steet movement. May you continue to spread throughout our land until the issues of inequality are addressed and corrected!
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Long-time friend, John (Jack) Nance Garner, continues to speak his mind on subject matters of importance. He frequently has his Letters to the Editor published in the Denton Record-Chronicle. And he frequently gets a lot of opposition in return. Here is his latest:

Corporate welfare:
"Hate welfare? Think it’s the most wasteful idiotic government program ever conceived by man with the help of God’s adversary? I do, too. Let’s put the boot to this government boondoggle. Let’s end it now. Let’s take the super rich, Big Oil, pharmaceutical companies, Wall Street and big bankers off of welfare. With 1 percent controlling 40 percent of the nation’s wealth, how much of the government’s resources do you think they use to maintain and add to their personal wealth? Of course, the idea of taxes should be the burden of the less-wealthy. The super rich need their money to make more money. They never get enough.
The base reason is from a mental condition known as peniaphobia — a fear of poverty; an unreasonable fear that is the father of greed, which in turn births the unequal tax system the super rich want to keep in place. This is not a new mental condition.
God handled those super rich of that time by proclaiming a year of jubilee, which required the compulsory return of all property to its original owners or their heirs, except the houses of laymen within walled cities, in addition to the manumission of all Israelite indentured servants. You had to give everything back and start all over. Godly inspired or not; not a popular concept with the “haves” then, as of today.
You would think Obama’s jobs program is going to do that from the amount of crocodile tears dripping onto the editorial pages."
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There has been so much happening in the world recently, it is hard for me to make up my mind what I wish to write about next. The death of Muammar Qadhafi hopefully will mean that Libya can now get down to the business of creating a government of equality for all. They were under so much oppression for so long. Again, we are faced with a matter of rejoicing at the death of a fellow human being. It must have been very, very hard for his wife, children, and grandchildren to see the horrible images of his dying and death that were displayed everywhere. As the old saying goes, "He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword." It's still sad to see someone end up that way. Let us hope it was for the greater good of the Libyans.

These are exciting times of world changes that we live in.

Peace and love,
Marilyn

Friday, September 30, 2011

P.S. I LOVE YOU

I know it may be puzzling to read about love at this time of year. It's not the Christmas season when we are filled with love of church or family, and it's nowhere near Valentine's Day when we traditionally express romantic love. But as the song reminds us, "What the world needs now is love, sweet love". 

Today, so much attention is focused by the media on the opposites of love: hate, fear, dissension, and violence. Just about everyone at one time or another seems to be at the center of their attention. A large portion of the American public spends a good deal of time watching television news or reading the news in papers or online. These folks are being programmed -- or indeed, brainwashed -- into a hateful and/or fearful mentality. An us against them mentality. We are constantly being pitted one against another: country against country, the Democrats vs Republicans (and now the Tea Partiers), liberals vs conservatives, "legal" citizens vs illegal immigrants, believers vs nonbelievers, rich vs poor. We are exposed daily to the "failures" and "losers" in our society, and they differ depending upon who is telling the story. Of course, we all want to be on the successful, winning side, don't we? It can be confusing at times knowing which side that is. It flip flops on us as we switch the channels on our TV, read opinions by different authors, or hear results from the latest poll. How are we supposed to know who we are against?? Or who to hate?

Love is anathema to a good news story, right? But never has it been needed more by our society.
What kind of love is needed now? Agape is often defined as Christian love, or brotherly love -- it is a type of love that is encouraged by all religions and philosophies. But even atheists feel love for their fellow man. I've always felt that these verses in I Corinthians 13 project what would be a perfect love. There are a few additional words that define love as well: compassion, empathy, forgiveness, tolerance, and generosity. And one we often forget -- service. What would life be like if there were not those dear souls who, with love in their hearts for their fellow man, dedicate their lives to caring for others? I believe that it is the rise of greed in the hearts of some that has created the loss of quality in so many areas of service to others. It is becoming more and more the case of "if the dollars aren't there, the loving care isn't either"! And that's sad.
The song goes on to say, "No not just for some, but for everyone." Wow! wouldn't it be wonderful if we all experienced love? We may not always receive love, but we can always be love.. and express it in myriad ways to everyone and everything in the world around us. One little way I like to think I am spreading love is by purchasing the Love postage stamps. I put them on all my correspondence -- even the bills I pay by mail! Silly, but it brings a smile to my face thinking about the people who handle each piece of my mail and see that little spot of love on the envelope. I hope it brightens someone's day. I'm always eager to see the new issues of these stamps each year, and I'm upset when the post office is out of Love stamps. My favorite was one published years ago. It was a picture of the earth from space, and instead of being round it was heart shaped! 
You can tell how long ago this stamp was published by looking at the cost! These were sold in 1991.
         
I know that some people are put off by my habit of signing nearly all of my emails with "Love". I really mean that, though. If we are close enough to send each other emails -- even jokes -- that means we care about each other. If one can care for a stranger and offer love by way of little postage stamps or serving up food at a local food kitchen, why can I not send a little love by way of my often brief messages via the internet to people I know? I always have believed that words have powerful energy. If I put any energy into correspondence, I want it to be positive, loving energy!

I consider it an expression of love when I fill the bird feeder in my backyard.. or give the birds fresh water. Or when I feel sorry for Piper, the Great Dane who lives next door, when she is left in her pen for days on end, and I take her a couple of doggy biscuits and rub her ears and talk to her for awhile. She has even learned to "sit" politely in anticipation of her treats! When we give love, we often receive so much love in return.

We can share our love by donating to worthy causes -- money if we have it or time if we don't; by calling someone we love and haven't spoken to in a long time; by sending a get well card to cheer someone who is ailing; by forgiving someone who has inadvertently (or purposely) hurt our feelings; or by visiting a lonely person. And of course, there is always the Internet. To send a personal email -- even a short one -- to let someone know you are thinking of them has lifted the spirits of someone. (Myself included!) I like to think of it as Instant Love!

Even during all the natural disasters in the United States and other countries in recent months, it was heartwarming to see the love in action as people from all over the world as well as our own area rallied to offer assistance in every way imaginable. It seems to neutralize the pain and horror of such events if we concentrate on the rescue and relief efforts.
Love is truly  powerful. Below is a beautiful bit of prose written by one of my favorite metaphysical teachers. I'm sure I've posted this on one of my blogs before, but I think it needs to be read again and again:

"There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer;
no disease that enough love will not heal;
no door that enough love will not open;
no gulf that enough love will not throw down;
no sin that enough love will not redeem...
It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble;
how hopeless the outlook;
how muddled the mistake.
A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all.
If only you could love enough you would be the happiest and most powerful being 
in the world.".. Emmet Fox


Yesterday I noticed I was getting increasingly impatient with the long line at the drive through window at the drugstore. I was penned in for 20 minutes, making me late for helping out at the Community Kitchen. I was very cross with the young man when I finally dropped off my prescription, telling him in no uncertain terms how I felt! As I drove off, I was ashamed of myself for my outburst. A few hours later when I returned to pick up my prescription, the same young man waited on me. (This time it took only 10 minutes!) He was very apologetic and made some comment about how it just didn't seem to be my day. I apologized to him, and even told him how I was learning a lesson about being in such a hurry. Patience, Marilyn, is a loving virtue!


Let me know your favorite way of spreading the love. We can't all be Mother Teresa, but in a myriad of small ways we can express love and overcome all the negativity that surrounds us daily. 


Peace to you all,
Marilyn


P.S. 
I love you!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A sad commentary on this "Nation Under God"


The Georgia Board of Parole and Pardons' failure to grant clemency to convicted killer Troy Davis is just one more example of the ills of our country. The fact that we put to death many innocent people in this country because of the hard line of a few is shameful. The state of Texas leads the thirty-six states who have the death penalty with the number of executions carried out. More have been carried out under our present Governor Rick Perry than under any other of our governors. It was shocking to hear Perry's recent statement that he never loses sleep over any of them! Even if one of them might be innocent. And this is the man who shamelessly prayed in front of our whole nation, displaying his so-called Christian beliefs for no other reason than to gain votes from the Christian Right. To me, this is typical of the hypocrisy shown by so many professed Christians running for office today.

As Sister Prejean (author of Dead Man Walking) says above, Jesus was a threat to the Romans and the religious hierarchy of His day because of His all-encompassing love, and insistence on equality for all. Forgiveness was a key word of His Gospel. And each and every one of us is deserving. Can you imagine that, if Jesus were here today, before healing someone He asked to see a green card, proof of citizenship, or Social Security card? Or asked who one was sleeping with. To refuse food or drink to a beggar in rags because to help him might make him dependent and not seek work?

It makes no sense to me to make a stand against abortion rights, then refuse to allow adequate sex education (not just abstinence) in our schools or planned parenthood clinics to assist the poor.  Yet this happens in every election since Roe v Wade. (Texas, by the way, leads the nation in teen pregnancies.) It makes about as much sense as clinics to "cure" homosexuality. Both of these issues are in the forefront of so many religious political contenders today. And they attract a lot of voters who never bother to seek out or to understand the rest of their platforms. Which today seems to be to maintain the status quo.. or maintain or institute legislation that only helps the few.

And that's what these candidates count on.

Tonight Troy Davis will join the ranks of Dead Men Walking.. guilty or innocent. May God bless his soul.

Peace and love to all,
Marilyn

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11


I do not know how many of you watched the ceremonies this morning at Ground Zero, but one of the most moving parts to me was hearing this version of "The Sound of Silence" by Paul Simon. The moments of silence at the exact time the planes hit each one of the towers, the Pentagon, and the plane that went down in Pennsylvania, then the ringing of the bell, moved me to tears. 


Other moving musical tributes were performed by Yo-Yo Ma, James Taylor, and a beautiful rendition of "Amazing Grace" by a flautist whose name I did not get. 

Among the speakers, Governor Christie of New Jersey read a short poem by Mary Lee Hall, urging people  to Turn Again to Life
"If I should die and leave you here awhile
Be not like others sore undone
Who keeps long vigil by the silent dust.
For my sake turn again to life and smile
Nerving the heart and trembling hand
To do something to comfort other hearts than thine.
Complete these dear unfinished tasks of mine
And I perchance may therein comfort you."

So many families of survivors were inspirational in telling their stories of how they have done just that -- turned again to life. And honored loved ones lost too soon.

Former NY Governor George Pataki read the last verse of the poem, "The Names", written by Billy Collins, United States Poet Laureate, in 2002 as a tribute to the fallen that fateful day of September 11, 2001:

"..Names written in the pale sky.
Names rising in the updraft amid buildings.
Names silent in stone
Or cried out behind a door.
Names blown over the earth and out to sea.
In the evening -- weakening light, the last swallows.
A boy on a lake lifts his oars.
A woman by a window puts a match to a candle,
And the names are outlined on the rose clouds --
Vanacore and Wallace,
(let X stand, if it can, for the ones unfound)
Then Young and Ziminsky, the final jolt of Z.
Names etched on the head of a pin.
One name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel.
A blue name needled into the skin.
Names of citizens, workers, mothers and fathers,
The bright-eyed daughter, the quick son.
Alphabet of names in a green field.
Names in the small tracks of birds.
Names lifted from a hat
Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.
Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.
So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart."

As President Obama read from the Book of Psalms, there was no doubt in my mind that, although no prayers were to be said at these ceremonies, many were offering up their private prayers to God.. and God was there.
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No, we will never forget the dark day of 9/11/01. So many American lives were lost needlessly. We will always honor and revere their memory. However, there is nothing more we can do about those losses. Nearly 3,000 gone forever from this earth. And as we turn again to life, may we "do something to comfort other hearts". Nearly 100,000 lives are lost daily to the famine in Somalia. Surely there is something we can do about that. We have thousands of victims of the wildfires right here in Texas right now needing our help and comfort. We can do something about that.
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And as a reminder that there is always good happening somewhere on any given day, I thought I would include the following little chart of "good stuff happening" on this day in history:
  • First World Parliament of Religions conference held, marking the first formal gathering of representatives of Eastern and Western spiritual traditions (1893)
  • Mahatma Gandhi coined the term "Satyagraha" (Truth-Force) to characterize Non-Violent movements (1906)
  • The Boston Red Sox won the World Series; wouldn't repeat for 86 years (1918)
  • The World Wildlife Fund was formed (1961)
  • The Beatles recorded their first single, "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You," at EMI studios in London (1962)
  • U.S. President Jimmy Carter, President Sadat of Egypt, and Prime Minister Begin of Israel agreed at Camp David on a framework for peace in the Middle East (1978)
  • Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds recorded his 4,192nd hit, breaking Ty Cobb's career record (1985)
  • Scots voted to create their own Parliament after 290 year union with England (1997)
And on this day in 2005, Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip after 38 years. Israeli soldiers lowered the flag at a ceremony marking the end of military rule there. It had already removed its settlers from Gaza, bulldozed their homes and demolished its military bases.
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As the lovely poem says "turn again to life and smile"... There are unfinished tasks to complete.

In reverence, peace, and love,
Marilyn

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Gotta get a wiggle on...

I must clarify something about myself in regards to the previous post containing the  Holstee Manifesto. I do not "Travel Often". Nor do I like to travel any more. However, I have been "lost" a few times! Not in a physical sense, but lost nonetheless. And yes, getting lost does help one find oneself. And that often prompts me to say, "I've gotta get a wiggle on"! For those of you who aren't familiar with that phrase, it's one I grew up hearing from my Mother. "Marilyn, get a wiggle on! You're going to be late!" Saying it to myself gets me back on my path before time runs out.

I said that to a friend of mine one time, and she looked at me and asked "How do you do that, Marilyn?" "Do what?" I replied. "Get a wiggle on. I want to see you do it." We both had a big laugh. She's from "up north", and had never heard the expression.

Living in New York City when I was in my 20s, the people there always asked me where I was from. Taxi drivers prided themselves on being able to determine locale by anyone's accent. They never guessed I was from Texas. Usually, they guessed Boston or Florida. Then late one afternoon I dropped into a little shop in Greenwich Village close to my apartment. As the door bell tinkled, I stuck my head in and asked the gentleman behind the counter, "Are you fixin' to close?" He grinned really big and said, "You've got to be from Texas!" I was dismayed that I had been found out! Seems he had been stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio years before. "You never hear 'fixin' to' anywhere but Texas." he told me. You know, since that day I am always "getting ready to" do something -- but never am I "fixin' to"!
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Matthew Delivering Donations @ Bastrop
Most of you have heard about the horrendous wildfires going on not only in the Austin area, but all over Texas. I spent a tense three days as the news filled with stories of the fire in Steiner Ranch where my son Matthew and his family live. They evacuated, taking their pet Corgi Jasmine, and spent two nights in friends' homes, not knowing whether or not they would have a home to go home to. Matthew was very philosophical about the whole thing, and remained calm -- which helped me. He told me that he got the most important things out -- his family. He said the rest is "just stuff, Mom", and can be replaced. He has good insurance, though, as many people do not.

Back home, after a hot shower (they have a gas water heater, but there was no electricity at first), and counting their blessings, Matthew began working on getting donations together to help fire victims who were not so lucky. He was "paying it forward". He's shown above in Bastrop, where over 1,300 homes were completely burned to the ground. Last night I heard the Bastrop wildfire is still only 40% contained.

Matthew is my youngest child, born when I was a little more mature -- nearly thirty years old. Knowing he probably would be my last baby, I remember holding him in the wee hours of the morning, long after he had finished nursing and had fallen asleep, rocking him gently and feeling that there was something very special about this happy little baby. As he has grown, Matthew has had more trials than most young people. At the age of twenty he began a series of terrible losses of people he loved. Instead of becoming bitter and cynical, or self-pitying, Matt has grown into a big-hearted, generous man who is "always there" for anyone in need. Family, friends, or strangers. He's an optimist who sees the glass as half-full instead of half-empty. He might scoff if he hears me say that he is more Christian than a lot of folks who are in church every time the doors open.  He may not profess to be Christian, but he is spiritual, and embodies all the good qualities one would expect in a Christian.

Now don't think I think he's perfect! As the card he gave me on Mother's Day said, "You mean I can't fly?" No, Matthew, you still can't fly! However, this is one kid that I never had to warn "Get a wiggle on! You're going to  be late!" Oh, I don't think he ever gets "lost" either. He has a GPS. (And Mom's prayers.)

And he's always "getting ready" to do something that makes me a proud Mom.

Peace and love,
Marilyn

Sunday, September 4, 2011

MINE, TOO.. MINE, TOO!

My manifesto, too, that is...
The Holstee Manifesto
I copied this from another blog recently. I understand it has been making the rounds on the Internet. I loved it so that I wanted to share it with my own readers. The small company who introduced this manifesto has some interesting, environmentally friendly products. Items made from recycled goods are among them. Best of all, 10% of their profits go to helping poverty stricken entrepreneurs. Check out their website at Holstee.com. How about a tee-shirt with the manifesto on it? How cool is that? I think I would add to the line "If you don't have enough time, stop watching TV or get off your iPhone!"
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Thank goodness, we here in Central Texas are looking at a weather forecast that predicts cooler temperatures this next week. The highs are predicted to be in the low 90s and even 80s, with some nights in the 50s and 60s! Unbelievable. After nearly 80 days of 100+ temperatures this summer, and absolutely no rain to speak of, everything, including the people, is cooked. Most yards look like straw. Few flowers are alive and blooming. And the poor tree branches are drooping, and their leaves are falling like winter is upon us. Water use is restricted, and wildfires are a constant threat. We find ourselves longing for some of the tropical storms brewing to send rain into our state -- but not too much now!
I remember complaining about the severe cold we had last winter (it was a record breaking winter here). Now I'm looking forward to those cold temperatures -- but not too cold. I found myself thinking I am a lot like Goldilocks in the Three Bears story. I want everything around me -- especially the weather -- to be "just right"! Is that too much to ask? Of course it is. When so many in our country, and the world, are suffering so much worse than we have been! It makes me a little ashamed. I say a little prayer of thanksgiving that I am not being forced out of my home due to horrendous earthquakes or flooding. And thanks that I am close enough to the fire department that I do not have to fear wildfires like they are having in some parts of Texas.
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Travis and I were looking out the window at what appeared to be rain clouds in the distance. We had been talking about the desperate need for rain, and all of the effects of the drought on our country -- wildfires, the loss of food crops, hungry cattle, wildlife abandoning their young for lack of food -- as well as our own personal needs. As the clouds darkened, I muttered, "Let it rain, let it rain, please let it rain". Travis looked at me with a puzzled expression. I quickly explained I was talking to God. (I do this a lot, but usually not out loud!) He told me that the weather reports he had been looking at online said it is not going to rain! I replied, "It might. We have to think positive. But, then again, it might not rain. Do you know why?" He shook his head. I said, "Because, even though God hears our every prayer, sometimes the answer to our prayers is 'No'. Do you know why that is?" Travis thought about that for a moment or two then answered, "Because God knows best?" This made my heart swell and my eyes mist over. A profound thought for a barely 9-year-old boy.

I thought to myself, how can all of this loss and devastation fall under the heading "Best"? What good can come of it? I've pondered upon that question for a few weeks now.  The only good result I see is that the less rain we have, and the more the water levels in our lakes and rivers drop to dangerous levels, the more the necessity for conserving water has become apparent. That and conserving the energy used to keep us cool during this long, hot, dry summer. One look at utility bills and the resulting increases over the previous year makes even the most privileged among us cringe. Think how much we could have saved if we only had a good supply of alternative energy for our electrical needs. Solar energy would be a boon with this much sunshine and cloud-free skies!

We as a country must wake up to the damages we have done to the environment, and implement necessary changes before it is too late. The United States has always been a world leader, however, our depletion of the planet's resources, and the industrialization causing pollution not only of the earth's surfaces but also of the atmosphere are accelerating, and soon it will be too late. The available technology that put men on the moon as well as space stations and satellites in orbit can surely be used for cleaning up our messes. The plunder of the earth has made many men, corporations, and countries wealthy. What good will that wealth be if the world dies?

I think it is pretty obvious that I am a believer in the theory of global warming. The melting ice caps and the warmer ocean temperatures are a result of the tear in the ozone layer, according to that theory. And the hole in the ozone is a result of the pollution being pumped into the atmosphere. A pretty simple explanation to me. I do know that the warmer ocean temperatures are the cause of the increase in number and severity of the hurricanes we've seen in recent years. What about the horrendous droughts now being experienced in different parts of the world, resulting in the terrible famine in South Africa? If it keeps up in this part of the United States, we can see a similar loss to our food crops and cattle. Could it ever get as bad as Africa's?

Some like to blame God -- or just the natural evolution of the planet earth. I say the blame lies with mankind, and its greed. What are we going to do about it? What can we do about it?

For the time being, I will observe the water restrictions, carefully ministering to the few little shrubs and plants I can keep alive. I will keep putting out food and water for the birds that visit my backyard in increasing numbers. And I will hope that the deer who have recently crossed the highway near my home and jumped the fence into my yard seeking food will stay safe and not be hit by cars. Sadly, they are not finding much more to eat in our neighborhood than in the hills beyond.

I will continue to pray for rain.. and as the Manifesto says, I will "share my passion". My passion is this earth and everything on it.

Peace and love,
Marilyn

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A TRIBUTE TO MY SISTER

It is near the anniversary of my sister's death. I thought it appropriate to run this tribute to her again. Her leaving us at such a young age left a big hole in our lives.




JEAN LOUISE MORAGNE EDWARDS HILL

MAY 24, 1942 ~ AUGUST 27, 2009

JEAN HILL was born May 24, 1942 in San Angelo, Texas to Viola Mae Varga, who preceded her in death in 2008, and Jarvis Frank Moragne. After a long illness, Jean died on August 27, 2009.

In May 1959 Jean married Carroll E. Edwards from Ballinger, Texas. Shortly after their marriage, they moved to England where Carroll was stationed with the United States Air Force. Their son, Terry Carroll was born while they were in England. In 1966 their daughter Gigi Diane was born in Dallas, Texas.

Jean was a talented hair stylist, whose clientele included a Miss Texas during the seventies. She had one client who regularly flew to Dallas from Houston to have Jean cut and style her hair. Jean worked at the same neighborhood beauty salon in Irving for nearly 20 years, making many long term friends of her clients, until her retirement in the eighties.

On Valentine's Day, 1986, Jean married Michael E. Hill in Plano, Texas, where they made their home. Jean became a second mother to two more wonderful children, Mike's children, Michael and Kristi. She loved them like her own. Jean was a beautiful, vibrant personality. She was an excellent cook, loved to play games of any kind... was an expert at video games... and also loved to entertain frequently in her home. She and Mike enjoyed traveling, and visited many countries of the world.

Although Jean was seriously ill the last few years, she remained an inspiration to all who knew and loved her. Her courage and happy spirit under very difficult, painful circumstances left one uplifted after being in her presence.

Jean is survived by her father of Mineral Wells, Texas, her husband Michael E. Hill, sons Terry C. Edwards of Denton, Texas, Michael G. Hill of Midlothian, Texas; daughters Gigi Riederer of Plano and Kristi Grant of Garland; sister Marilyn Moragne of Burnet, Texas; 7 grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren; and cousin and best friend Debbie Burch of Universal City, Texas. A memorial service was held at the Four Corners Church in Plano, Texas, Saturday, September 12, 2009 to celebrate Jean's life. She left us a legacy of love.

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The following was posted on a BHS Class blog I did in 2007. It brings tears to my eyes to read this, but I wanted to share the wonderful sense of humor my baby sister had.

"Many of you may remember my younger sister Jean. Jean is a beautiful, humorous soul who gives the family many instances of laughter. The following took place in the spring of 2006. She is still very much "with us", although the transplant has not taken place. One has to be cancer-free for five years in order to be considered for one. I hope you enjoy this. She would be laughing with you if she were present!"

A FUNNY JEAN STORY

"My sister Jean recently underwent extensive medical testing to see if she were healthy enough for a lung transplant. She told a story on herself that had me laughing so hard I nearly fell out of my chair. The story goes like this: Jean had visited a medical professional building for a variety of tests. She had just had blood and sputum (she said she had never heard spit called this before) samples taken and she was directed to the next office where two pulmonary technicians were awaiting her. She went in and said to them, 'Well, I've just had a blood test and a scrotum test, now what are you going to do?' The two technicians burst out laughing. After explaining to her what she had said and what it meant, they all had a big laugh and were in good spirits while they conducted the scheduled breathing tests. As she was leaving, Jean, in her inimitable fashion, turned to them and said, 'I guess you will always remember me as the sperm lady!' Whereupon, the technicians lost it again! Later she repeated the story at the beauty salon she goes to, getting the words mixed up again, as Jean often does. Her 'nail lady', recognizing a good story, rehearsed Jean over and over on the word 'sputum' so she could properly tell her story!

Unfortunately – or as it turns out, fortunately, one of her tests was a long overdue mammogram. It detected a lump in her breast which has indefinitely postponed consideration for a lung transplant.

Jean called me to tell me that the biopsy showed the lump was malignant and they were going to operate. I asked her if they would have to do a mastectomy. She replied, 'Oh, no, the doctor said they definitely weren’t going to do a vasectomy!' No matter how serious the occasion, I could not help laughing at her. When I told her what she said, we both roared.

Suddenly, she whispered, 'You don’t suppose I’m a man inside trying to get out, do you??'

Gotta love her! A side note. Jean has since had a lumpectomy and the doctors felt certain they removed the entire malignancy. She did not have to have chemotherapy or radiation. She’s doing quite well, and is very philosophical about the whole experience. She went for the lung transplant series of tests against her better judgment. She really was frightened of the transplant and not sure she wanted one. Now she believes the whole purpose of this experience was to discover the lump in her breast.

God works in mysterious ways indeed."

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And yes, Jean is "still with us" -- just in another form.

Say "I love you" to your loved ones today,

Marilyn



Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cutting the Deficit and Cutting Off Our Noses

How can anyone who has been paying attention the past ten years not be able to figure out what has been happening in Washington. They can now spout words like "Obamacare", and huge figures off the tops of their heads that don't really mean anything except more confusion for the American public. Politicians play on people's emotions and constantly point fingers at the other side to lay blame for the mess they have got us in. In the back of my mind I always feel there is something "missing" they aren't telling us... or they are twisting the facts to make their side look "better". These politicians know they are only acting. And not with the welfare of the average American in mind. Most of all, they are trying to ensure their own political future! They are playing to their supporters in hopes that they will be re-elected. I would say that is especially true of the newly elected Tea Party members. 

With a little research on the Internet, one can come up with some realistic facts and figures like the ones below. Even without being an economist or having a degree in math, it seems pretty obvious how we got ourselves into the current financial mess. Of course, we need to reduce the deficit! But for those who argue that suspending the tax cuts implemented during the Bush administration will stop the creation of new jobs... Well! I ask, where have those jobs been since the cuts were implemented?? The tax cuts didn't stop the financial meltdown, and they don't appear to have helped with new jobs either. I would really like to know how they think cutting back essential programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and even financial aid to college students is going to make up for the nearly two trillion dollars in tax cuts for the major corporations and the wealthiest Americans, and how it is going to benefit the majority of Americans.

I thought equality and the good of the "majority" was the purpose of democracy. I guess I'm naiive. In today's world, the folks with the most money have the most power. And they get the most "benefits". And we all know the statistics about the percentage of people who have the highest percentage of wealth in the U.S. That certainly is not a "majority".  But they seem to control the majority in Washington making the policy and decisions for the rest of us in this country today.

The Bible says, "To whomever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked.". (Luke 12:48) And Jesus also said, "Render to Caesar the things which are Caesar's.." (Matt. 22:21) when asked about paying taxes. How can anyone -- no matter their belief -- think it is unfair for those in our country who are the most privileged and powerful to pay at least as much in income taxes as their secretaries? (Warren Buffett is quoted as saying he pays less than his secretary.) If suspending those tax cuts and loopholes will help the citizens in this country, and keep our government running, why is everyone not asking their representatives to do something about it? I have consistently let mine know where I stand on these and other important issues. The fact that I get form letters back full of party rhetoric and toots on their own horn lets me know that they don't care what this little grandmother in Texas thinks! I didn't vote them into office, and will not vote for their re-election. Surely, some of us working together can be as powerful as the conservatives were in the last election.
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Obama’s and Bush’s effects on the deficit in one graph


"What’s also important, but not evident, on this chart is that Obama’s major expenses were temporary — the stimulus is over now — while Bush’s were, effectively, recurring. The Bush tax cuts didn’t just lower revenue for 10 years. It’s clear now that they lowered it indefinitely, which means this chart is understating their true cost. Similarly, the Medicare drug benefit is costing money on perpetuity, not just for two or three years. And Boehner, Ryan and others voted for these laws and, in some cases, helped to craft and pass them.

To relate this specifically to the debt-ceiling debate, we’re not raising the debt ceiling because of the new policies passed in the past two years. We’re raising the debt ceiling because of the accumulated effect of policies passed in recent decades, many of them under Republicans. It’s convenient for whichever side isn’t in power, or wasn’t recently in power, to blame the debt ceiling on the other party. But it isn’t true."
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Here is another graph, this one courtesy of the U.S. Treasury, showing to whom the U.S. owes money!

Social Security is in the crosshairs of the debt negotiations currently going on in Washington. This, even though Social Security doesn’t add a penny to the deficit — it shouldn’t be in the discussions. Rather than adding to the deficit, Social Security is a creditor of the United States, just like China is. Of the $14.3 trillion the federal government currently owes its creditors, $2.7 trillion of that is owed to the Social Security Trust Funds." (Nancy Altman, co-chair of the Strengthen S.S. Campaign)
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It has been almost a year since I went on my last "news fast". What happens in Congress the next few days is so critical, I will continue to be a worry wart, and haunt the news sites on the Web and even check in on the Cable news programs (not FOX, of course!). As soon as I know whether or not the programs that help me and a lot of seniors I know, are going to be cut, I intend to once again "fast"!
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Much has been flowing to me along the lines of wholeness -- accepting the "shadow" in our personal lives, and knowing the necessity of contrasts in order for our world to exist. One book in particular covers this, "The Shadow Effect". I was surprised to see it in my local library, which is usually filled with the latest conservative books.. or the latest in the romance or vampire series. It is a compilation of writings by Deepak Chopra, Debbie Ford, and Marianne Williamson. The message I am getting after only a few chapters can relate to the "duality" of the debates going on in Washington. No matter which side you are on, you feel your side is right and the other is wrong -- or the "shadow". There must be integration and acceptance of both sides for our nation to obtain a sense of unity and wholeness again.
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Guess I'll close with a little humor about "causes" in the U.S. We all have our favorites, but the guys have the gals beat!
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Until next time, please consider donating to your favorite charity to help the pitiful victims of famine in Somalia. Watch the slideshow at the top of the page. Your heart will be touched. I read on one site a nasty comment from someone who said we have "children starving in America", and we should save our money for them! If you truly believe there are starving children in America, please donate to one of the many wonderful organizations across the country who are doing everything they can to eliminate even the slightest bit of hunger here. Even in a town as small as ours, less than 7,000 people, we have three different groups offering free hot meals for the hungry, lonely, or anyone who wishes to eat with us. I cannot believe there are people anywhere in the U.S. who are as desperate as these people in Africa. Even $5, if multiplied by thousands or millions of people, will save lives.

With love, peace, and hope for our future,
Marilyn

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A letter from one of your constituents...

A good friend of mine sent the following letter that one of her bridge partners sent to his Representatives from Oklahoma. I asked permission to post it here, as it says so eloquently what many of us in America feel about what is going on in our country today -- in particular, the changes in our political scene. I had June request permission from the author of this letter to use it here, as well as a good portion of it to use to send to our own Representatives in Washington. He kindly agreed, and even allowed the use of his name.

If any of you feel the same, we would love to hear from you. I have permission to send you Mr. McGee's email address if you wish to address him personally. Perhaps you would like to use all or a portion of this letter to send to your own Representatives. Here it is in its entirety. 
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"Senator ____, and/or Representative _____

I hope you actually take the time to read this message. I am a 74 year old voter in your state and until four years ago I was a registered Republican. The Republican party has changed until I can no longer support their agenda. I am now a registered Independent. I have voted in all elections since I reached age 21! I have served my country thru my service in the military and volunteer organizations. I have worked and lived in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, so I am familiar with other cultures and governments. 

I have seen the results of distorted wealth distribution and political power on people and nations. I am deeply concerned about the current concentration of American wealth and power into the hands of fewer and fewer people and corporations. Especially people and organizations that never seem to get enough power or wealth and have no moral inclination to share that wealth and control with those who are most often at the bottom of the economic ladder in the United States. We claim to be a Christian nation but we do not walk the talk. How can we allow millionaires and major corporations to pay little or no tax and then take maximum tax money from the poor and middle class! 

It appears to me that the prime objective of the Republican party is to destroy President Obama's presidency not to strengthen or save America. Yes, tax issues need to be addressed, namely tax breaks for millionaires, agribusinesses, oil companies and excessive military costs. The high costs of supporting the federal legislative branch should also be looked at and cuts considered. After those issues have been addressed, then perhaps we can cut back on other costs of running the government and then and only then consider the programs that help the poor, disabled, elderly and our children.

For 66 years I have paid into Social Security and for most of those years I paid the maximum amount. The US government owes me a fair Social Security payment based on the amount I have paid into the government over the years. The fact that the government used that money for other purposes and did not set the money aside for the obligated payments after my retirement is not my problem and I should not have to suffer the consequences because the government squandered the money. The continued COLA adjustment is also justified to protect the retired elderly, since the government seems not to be able to control inflation!

I don't know if anyone in your office will read this, or if you will even know that I took the time to write. But let me assure you, that I will vote in the next election, and I will work to help defeat any candidate who cannot understand the issues I have raised and who takes care of their own, but has no concern for American citizens who are not among the wealthy, lobbyists or major dollar contributors.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I sincerely hope it has given you something to think about.

Sincerely,
Bob McGee
Edmond, Oklahoma"
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Thank you, Mr. McGee! I told my friend June that it was so refreshing to hear "ordinary citizens" speak out in no uncertain terms about the major issues and problems facing us in the U.S. today. I hope it inspires more of us "ordinary" folks to do the same! I know I intend to hammer home to my own Representatives my feelings regarding their current behavior, and how I will also work to see them voted out of office if they continue in the same vein as today!
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Another long-time friend of mine, whom I hadn't seen in many years, asked me a couple of years ago what happened to me. I used to be a staunch Republican -- believe it or not, I even campaigned for Barry Goldwater! (I truly believed he could stop the war in Vietnam!) She could not believe my current "liberal" views and voting record of the past twenty years. "What happened to me?" I laughingly responded, "I grew up!" Unfortunately, she didn't take that remark too kindly. I have thought about her question many times since, and have had a difficult time explaining it to myself. I did not think my belief system had changed that much. I have always been anti-war, pro-civil rights, and pro-women's rights -- I was one of the 50's women who suffered all the indignities of women of our generation: unequal pay, sexual discrimination in hiring and promotion, sexual harrassment, and even age discrimination!  After reading Mr. McGee's letter, in plain and simple terms, I realized he is right on target: It's the Republican Party that has changed!! I have voted as a Democrat for over twenty years now. But they are also changing, and are not as representative of the average citizen in America! We need to let the members of both parties know our displeasure, and where we stand on the issues. Corporate America and the super rich are not representative of the majority of Americans.
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This Grandmommy still has little ones visiting. I am constantly reminded of the fact that their futures are in our hands. 

Peace, love, and hope for the future,

Marilyn